Dead Links Are Expensive

When it comes to delivering a positive user experience, any article in EzineArticles that has a dead or broken link is a liability.

  • Recently we completed an audit and found that we are hosting 107,405 Dead Links.
  • This isn’t acceptable and we’re feeling compelled to act in order to prevent our guests/site visitors from having a bad experience with any of our members articles.
  • BLOG QUESTION OF THE DAY: What should we do with articles that have bad links?

    The best option being considered is notifying the member via email and via their EzineArticles Inbox of the fact that they have a dead or broken link with a gentle warning that if they don’t fix the problem within (7) days…that we’ll auto-remove the HREF statement behind their links so that the link is no longer active. Your thoughts?

    26 Comments »


    1

    Probably nicer than I would be about it. I probably would pull the article altogether, because honestly, if they link is dead, it really isn’t doing much to promote anything for the writer, is it?

    Then again, I suppose having the content still on EzineArticles’ site is a benefit even without that link.

    Still, if the point here for most writers is to offer tidbits of information to both brand themselves as an expert in their field, while promoting themselves or their site, and the links simply don’t work, what benefit is there to keeping the article at all?

    Maybe I’m missing something. Anyway, I would likely suspend the article, send the email as to why it was suspended, and then give them time to fix it and make it active again.

    Short of that, your idea would likely work too. LOL Just my two cents.

    Michy

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 9:36 AM

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    2

    Hi Chris,

    That’s a good idea to inform the authors and if they couldn’t fix within 7 days, auto-remove the HREF.

    By the by, I like to thank you for the introduction of Press Exposure press release services in addition to EzineArticles.

    First I submitted a press release a year ago at Press Exposure and come to know the whole issues of PR services.

    Recently I submitted a Press Release about my book release through the PR Newswire and the Press Release was distributed on various media including Reuters, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, AOL, Yahoo – Finance and Hollywood Reporter.

    I have just started “News & Business Wire Consultancy” on amateur level to make livelier the PR releases of authors, businesses and celebrities for a modest payment.

    I am developing my initial trial service at the “IGLOO” Blog and want to know whether I could link the following when I write articles on PR issues.

    http://www.igloo.org/Infowire

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 10:11 AM

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    3
    Janice writes:

    Hi

    I am one of the culprits with dead links in about 60 or 70 articles caused by changing my website software from Mambo to Xsite pro – all my page URLs changed.

    I have a special 404 page which directs people to the right page to collect their free report.

    But if “encouraged” by penalties I would be changing my dead links pretty quickly!

    How does this tie in with the new policy to charge for edits?

    Janice

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 10:15 AM

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    4

    Michy,

    We had considered your idea and the thought was this: Even after the expert author abandoned their articles, they provide value for future visitors.

    Rajkumar,

    You can include it… It’s considered a self serving link like any other link…so no extra permission from us is required to include it in your resource box.

    Uhmm, your blog comment post goes against our blog comment policy in that we don’t allow resource boxes in blog comments (it’s considered double dipping because you get a link to your name already)… but I let it pass because you listed your EzineArticles expert author link to your name. Not a big deal… just fyi. :)

    Janice,

    It would still count as a self-serving reason so my gut thought is that it would be a fee-based thing… but keep in mind that we didn’t roll that out yet. That means you can edit your articles right now to include the new link without any revision fee. Hint Hint. :)

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 10:25 AM

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    5
    Jim writes:

    Should remove the articles and notify the owner and give them the opportunity to fix them.

    Jim

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 12:04 PM

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    6

    Curious:

    I wonder if the “REMOVE THEM” crowd is suggesting that to remove competition?

    That is the effect that it would have… Expert authors who don’t have dead links would get a bigger piece of the remaining traffic pie.

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 12:16 PM

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    7
    Jim writes:

    Chris,

    That was probably meant for mr. I really don’t mind competition! However, I hate dead links.

    Jim

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 1:30 PM

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    8
    Edward Weiss writes:

    Another option would be to remove the author bio completely so you could still make money through adsense.

    I would notify them first though.

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 2:05 PM

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    9

    Chris,

    I’m not for totally removing them… and I don’t really ‘compete’ here on EzineArticles, so removing someone else wouldn’t really affect me that much, so that wasn’t my reasoning (though it sure doesn’t upset me any of a ‘competitor’ who no longer cares enough about their business to update their links when asked gets the boot while I, who still updates and cares about my readers, gets a bump because of it).

    Additionally, I don’t think they should be summarily removed, but rather suspended articles, author notified, and then if they don’t update it in a specific time frame, it gets pulled.

    I realize you say that they still have value. To whom? Your site isn’t primarily used as a point of contact for ‘readers’, is it? And since the link doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not going to benefit the author anymore. The only person it might benefit at this point (besides potential ad clicks for EA) is the publisher who picks it up to get filler content, and how good is it going to make that publisher look if they pick up a dead link?

    I still think pulling them, suspending them until fixed, and deleting them if not fixed in a certain time is still the best for all concerned – IMO. Plus, you’re the one who titled this post, “Dead Link Are Expensive” – they are to publishers too – I use EzineArticles on both sides of the coin. – I check the links before I publish, and it’s really irritating to get a dead one, especially when you REALLY like the content, but you are required to be ‘legal’ to keep the resource box.

    As a publisher, if the link is dead, whether it has an href tag or not, I won’t use the content, since I can’t modify the resource box per your publisher’s rules, and having a dead link makes ME look bad as the publisher too. (shrug)

    Michy

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 2:10 PM

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    10

    Edward W,

    I’m certain that we would not do that option. The way I see it, every article in the site helps every article in the site… If we had to blow away 75,000 articles because they had dead links in them…that would leave a deep hole and hurt more than us directly… every author would see a macro drop in traffic. Could be negligible also… we just don’t know.

    Michy,

    Our site is primarily used as a point of contact for readers, moreso than publishers. Years ago it was the other way around…not today.

    Your point is very valid about us looking bad to publishers …giving them articles with broken links. Thankfully this can be solved by denoting the article as being unavailable for syndication (a new feature for 2008 that we’ve been working on for some time). More on this early next year.

    Dead Links Are Expensive because they destroy credibility with our users. Publishers are in the 1% range of our users. That means we serve 99% of our value to non-Publishers. Publishers are important to us, but only a minority few actually provide us and our members with tangible and desired benefits for the exchange of content.

    We appreciate you and everyone’s thoughtful comments on this debate/issue. :)

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 2:30 PM

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    11

    Hey! Learn something new every day. Thank YOU for always looking at our opinions when you make changes to the site. I love the open communication and direct interaction your site provides!

    Michy

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 2:35 PM

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    12

    Hi Chris!

    You need an alarm: each time a link is not working, the author will see an alarm in his/her author page and it won’t disappear until the problem is fixed.

    If the author shows indifference, then you shall advise him/her that the article will be deleted.

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 3:50 PM

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    13

    Christina,

    The alarm or alert idea is a good one. I’ll ask our team what can be done with this.

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 4:00 PM

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    14

    I’m glad!

    Comment provided December 5, 2007 at 4:35 PM

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    15
    Lance Winslow writes:

    Well, I have nearly 13,000 articles now and in some of my articles, I have referrences and it might be impossible for me to fix all those that are broken in 7-days. So, I would like a “special pass” for extra time. But since I am most likely the only one with this issue, I suppose the rest of the concept makes perfect sense. – Lance

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 1:25 AM

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    16

    In a while you won’t be the only one with so many articles here, Dear Lance!

    By the way, for how many categories do you write articles? I’m discovering new categories everyday, besides being near my first goal: be the top author on Depression. And I’m writing 2 articles per day instead of only one as before. In a while I’ll be writing 5 per day, besides many ebooks.

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 10:04 AM

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    17
    Janice writes:

    Hi Chris

    just wondering if there is an easy way of changing a single dead link to the new correct link in all my articles.

    I just got started with changing one – and then I thought that I am going to do this process about 70 times and someone at your end will have 70 reviews to do though I have only changed one link.

    If not I’ll just carry on … just a thought.

    Janice

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 2:04 PM

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    18
    Janice writes:

    Update – Actually my edited article came back almost instantly as approved so perhaps it’s not such a big process and I’ll just go ahead and get them done.

    Janice

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 2:30 PM

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    19

    Wouldn’t it be easier when putting up articles and adding links to put up a redirect link on your own website to the other site or link? Then when a link goes dead, all you have to do is change the redirect on your own site, and then all the links would be valid again, with just one change.

    Does EzineArticles allow that, or does it require a direct link?

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 5:04 PM

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    20
    Raymond Wesley writes:

    This is easy.
    The author should be allowed to fix the problem.
    If the author can’t, (deceased).
    Move the article to the equivalent of the dead letter office where it will remain available to other users but no longer counts in the authors stats.
    After all you accepted it once and someone may still be able to derive benefit from it.

    Comment provided December 6, 2007 at 6:21 PM

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    21
    Steve Johnson writes:

    I like the idea of an “e-lert” in my mailbox, telling me of the broken link. I think then you could put a 15-day limit on the reply time to fix it. This would handle most out-of-office or away-on-vacation situations, and give authors plenty of time to fix the linking problems.

    Even though some articles would wind up getting the boot from EzineArticles.com, the overall result would be a much better user experience. There would be little if any frustration that comes with “Cannot find this web page” on IE browser.

    Comment provided December 13, 2007 at 2:22 PM

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    22

    This suggestion of yours seems fair to me. I’ve encountered by share of dead links and it’s frustrating. Thanks for addressing this issue.

    Deb Gallardo

    Comment provided December 14, 2007 at 8:48 PM

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    23
    Matt Ellsworth writes:

    I think your suggestion is fair. But in cases like lance – perhaps you could offer to just run a bulk find and replace query in his articles replacing all links to Site A to site B instead.

    Comment provided December 19, 2007 at 10:16 AM

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    24
    anson writes:

    you should delete the bad link or replace a new link for site.

    Comment provided December 19, 2007 at 1:15 PM

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    25
    Nick A writes:

    I think it’s a good idea to let the author fix the link within a certain time frame. If it’s not fixed, then take out the link.

    Most authors should be able to fix a broken link within a few days; sites go down and come back up, etc. And the ones that never respond to the email and don’t fix the link won’t have their article removed entirely. I think this would be a fair policy.

    Comment provided December 20, 2007 at 6:47 PM

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    26
    robert writes:

    Wouldn’t it be easier just to remove the dead links, and send an email to the author letting him know, and that he can edit the article to add a live link at any time. Less work for you, put the problem on authors back where it belongs, and eliminate any time frames.

    Comment provided December 21, 2007 at 7:28 PM

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